Public Can Make Comments On MDA Phosphorus Management Tool - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Public Can Make Comments On MDA Phosphorus Management Tool

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MARYLAND - Maryland farmers and residents concerned about fertilizer run-off can now comment on proposed changes to the Phosphorus Management Tool.

The Phosphorus Management Tool replaces the Phosphorus Site Index to reflect more than 10 years of new research by University of Maryland scientists in collaboration with regional and national experts. Currently, the Phosphorus Site Index helps farmers determine how much fertilizer they can apply to fields, mainly so phosphorus does not run into nearby waterways. Revising and updating the tool is an element of Maryland's Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), the federally mandated document that outlines specific steps the state will take to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

However, the proposed regulations by the Maryland Department of Agriculture could impact how farmers use chicken manure on farm fields, which tends to be high in phosphorus.

"We've learned more about it and we feel that it could be devastating for the poultry growers and for farmers that use poultry manure," says Lee Richardson, a farmer in Willards, Maryland. "This could cause our costs to rise considerably and the poultry growers may not have a place to get rid of their manure responsibly."

The MDA says the proposal reflects the most recent changes made after an earlier version was met with concerns from the agriculture and environmental communities.

Comments may be sent to Earl F. Hance, Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, Maryland 21401, or email to Earl.Hance@maryland.gov, or fax to 410-841-5914. Comments will be accepted through November 18, 2013. A public hearing has not been scheduled.

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